Kid-proof folder in XP

The kids are on the PC more and more, playing Mathletics and Googling Amelia Earhart.

There’s certain pics and vids we don’t really want them to see (or upload to Youtube!) Simply hiding files deep in big folder trees isn’t so good any more, now applications like Picassa and Media Player are in the habit of trawling the whole hard drive for media files and creating their own libraries with lovely big thumbnails.

So I want a folder they can’t get into. XP Home doesn’t offer folder encryption, and Microsoft seem to have withdrawn their “Private Folder 1” software on the grounds it was too useful. There’s plenty of freeware options out there and if necessary I’ll go with Truecrypt, but they’re a bit overpowered for what I need. I don’t need anything that integrates with the shell or cleans up your browser history - just a single, password-lockable folder would be fine. Any recommendations or suggestions?

I’d just use what’s built in:

Using XP Home, all you’d have to do is set up a separate, limited user account for your kids; then make sure the files and folders for your own account are set as private. (There should be a single checkbox for it in XP’s user account control panel.)

Their account can then have its own applications, settings, and everything. That way your kids won’t inadvertently find anything embarrassing in your browser history either. :wink:

Password protected zip file.

I would use the honor system, and tell them “kids, there is a folder called My Documents/photos/very private, under no circumstances are you to go look at the pictures and videos in there.”

Or else use Stealth Potato’s suggestion. We have three family members using the same computer (me, my wife, my son) and we have three different accounts. This prevents e-mails and browser histories getting all mixed up between different people. My son (who is 7) is restricted to a very small number of applications and a handful of websites.

… but every other directory tree of the PC thou mayest freely browse.

I can’t think of a better way to get mom and dad’s naked time on 4chan.

I’d move any personal files to a usb thumb drive. Keep it in a secure place.
Computer is kid friendly and your files are still easily accessible.

If you need more space. Use an external hard drive. It can still be tucked away in a drawer.

Been doing that for a while, but don’t find the account handling very friendly. Hardly anything worked in the boys’ account without being installed for a second time. They’d write stuff in Word and then not be able to save it, that sort of thing. Our browser history isn’t a problem.

An encrypted zip folder might do the job - I’ll give it a go.

The kids should definitely have their own user accounts. I’d do it this way:

One account per child.
Do NOT give them admin rights.
Change the password on the account that DOES have admin rights.
They’ll have their own My Docs folder but I would also create a shared “Kids” folder, so they can do stuff together if they want.
Set permissions on the rest of the hard drive to keep them out of your private stuff.

There’s a lot more you can do with Local Security Policies etc, later.

Yeah, I find the hassle of multiple account can be more hassle than it’s worth as well. I was meaning more along the lines of you creating your own new account and password protecting that. You’d only use it when you want to use the more private stuff.

But, if you like the ZIP file thing, I feel the need to discuss the cons:
[li]If you add a larger file to it, it may take a bit to encode.[/li][li]Similarly, accessing that file will take longer.[/li][li]Every time you open a file, it will be copied to your TEMP folder, and will need to be deleted. Far better to drag it out, open it, and then delete it.[/li][li]Or, if you change it, you’ll have to drag it back in, as you’ll need to update the file in the ZIP folder.[/li][/ul]

Then again, private folders isn’t that secure as all you need is a boot disk to get around it.

I took a look at Truecrypt, and, really, that’s what I would probably wind up using if these secret files are very large (like maybe videos), and you want to be sure they are inaccessable. Waiting on files to decrypt would drive me crazy.

I strongly suggest you get them their own PC. Yes, you can secure your current PC, but if the children do something to muck up the current PC, you’ll still be affected. But if they have their own PC, any damage they can do is restricted to that PC.

Seconded. Get a second PC for “family friendly” stuff & keep your naughty bits on your own pc.

If that’s absolutely impossible, you can use a password protected zip file (as mentioned above) or even an encrypted USB key. Check out truecrypt

Create a container in truecrypt and put the folder in it.

Okay, I was a pretty good kid, but telling me this would automatically mean I would look.

Personally, I wouldn’t want the hassle of adding/removing stuff to an encrypted ZIP archive, or even TrueCrypt, just to avoid kids looking at naked pictures. I’d just buy an external USB hard drive and stash it someplace the kids won’t look, like with old tax forms. No waiting, just plug in and go.

I’d go with TrueCrypt. I have some “private files” in a password protected zip file, and in order to look at them you have to unzip the whole thing to a temp folder, and then remember to delete it later, and that opens it up to undelete. Then if you want to add/edit/remove things you have to rebuild the zip file. It’s a pain.

With TrueCrypt you can create a file container, and when you want to use it you just mount the container to a drive letter and it works like a normal directory where you can view/edit/add/remove easily without leaving extra unencrypted copies laying around. Unmount when you’re done and you don’t have to wait for it to recompress or anything. You also don’t need to have TrueCrypt start on boot, so there’s no overhead. You just run it when you want to work on the files in the container.

I agree with aceplace57 who suggested the portable thumb drive. That is the easiest, most fool proof solution: no zipping, no passwords, no accidental access.

Of course! (I need to use smilies more often.)

I like TrueCrypt. I am a complete dummy with computer stuff and I figured it out. You can encrypt an external drive or storage device. Make your container a “favorite” and all you need to do is hit Mount Favorites, enter password and you’re in. It appears in My Computer as another drive letter.

Even if we assume the kids have superhuman self-control, the contents of that folder would still be picked up by applications like Picassa doing scans.

On the other hand, it might be fun to do that anyway, and then just fill up that folder with nothing but the most boring stuff you can possibly imagine.